It is not easy being a man of faith in a world that desires undeniable proof for everything.
I live in an area where there is a national laboratory and a very large nuclear reservation from the Cold War. My area is also a hub for medical research. There are more engineers, scientists, and doctors here than many other places. Engineers, scientists, and doctors are rarely known for their faith; they are known for physical proof and evidence in everything. I count many engineers and scientists as friends, and in fact, my formal education is nuclear engineering. How can a person be a man of faith in a world of proof?
Faith seems to fly in the face of science. Most people would say that science is a collection of physically proven theories that are undeniable and their proof is repeatable. In contrast, faith is the belief in what you cannot prove or see. The Apostle Paul gives us the definition of faith in Hebrews.
(1) Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Paul does a great job of defining faith for the Christian. I think we can expound on that and help you live a life of faith in a world that desires proof for everything.
World of Proof
People have an insatiable desire for proof. We have to understand this desire before we learn how to be a person of faith in this natural world. It all boils down to the nature of mankind. From the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, sin entered our lives. Because sin is in our lives, and we know sin is in everyone else’s life, we expect people to behave and act in certain ways. We expect people to be selfish, dishonest, disobedient, and more, all to varying degrees. We expect this because we know we are all these things to varying degrees.
Currently, the world is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are wondering what to believe. Research results are being reported before they can be backed up with peer-reviews and reproducible results. People ask, “Do I wear a mask, or not?” or “Is this a natural virus or is it engineered by man?” There are so many theories and opinions that people have been polarized. This is all a result of the natural distrust that is in us all. This is an example of why we desire irrefutable proof for everything.
Man of Faith
It takes a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to fully grasp the concept of faith and live in this world that requires proof. Jesus points this out when teaching his disciples in Matthew 16:13-18.
(13) When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (14) They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (15) “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” (16) Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (17) Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. (18) And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Up until this point the disciples, along with everyone else, had seen Jesus doing many miracles and have wisdom beyond understanding. The people attributed it to what their own minds could come up with. A common thought at the time was Jesus was a reincarnation of someone they had already experienced. They were basing their conclusion on what they had personally seen or experienced, or what they could prove. But Peter answered differently, and verse 17 is the key verse here for my point.
Peter said that Jesus is the Messiah; the Son of the Living God. In verse 17 Jesus points out that this had not been revealed to Peter by natural means; it had been revealed to him by God and it took great faith.
In another passage of scripture, we read that Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum and he was teaching some difficult concepts about the Messiah. Concepts that really stretched the mind and soul and you had to let go of what you could see, experience, or prove. Many thought his teachings were too difficult and stopped following him. John 6:67-69 records Jesus’ interaction with the 12 disciples at this point.
(67) “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. (68) Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (69) We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Peter, once again, proclaimed that Jesus is the one who brings the words of eternal life. This supernatural knowledge that Peter had came from God the Father, and it allowed him to see with faith rather than his own eyes.
Jesus Lived in Faith in a World of Proof
As you ask yourself how you can live as a man of faith in a world that requires proof remember that Jesus was a man of faith living in a world of proof, too. Jesus was often asked to give a sign. These were not requests to minister to someone; to bring healing, sustenance, or wisdom. These were people wanting proof because they chose not to believe.
The Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus for a sign at one point. They wanted proof Jesus was who he said he was. They had heard the stories and the testimony from many people, but they wanted to see for themselves for the purpose of seeing for themselves. We read about this interaction in the gospel of Matthew.
(1) The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. (2) He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ (3) and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. (4) A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
God has given us all we need to see and understand. When we couple that with the testimony of people day in and day out of how the Lord has provided for them, protected them, or healed them, it is impossible to not believe.
When you are asked how you can live by faith and not proof, you merely need to share Matthew 16:1-4 with the person, in love. Then you share your own testimony. Share what you have personally experienced in the Lord. After that, start praying for that person. Ask the Lord to speak to them and make himself known to them.
Natural vs Supernatural
Engineers, scientists, doctors, and the like work in the natural world. We are all limited by life living in the natural world. This is the life that scientists try to explain with logical reproducible results proving theories to establish fact. There is nothing wrong with this. Life in this physical world requires a firm understanding of the natural laws of physics and nature.
Building codes, medicine, technology, and more, are all results of a deeper understanding of this world we live in and how it works. Science journals and articles fascinate me, especially articles and journals about space. Maybe someday I will be a minister/chaplain on a space station or moon base. Probably not. Kelly wouldn’t let me.
What we must understand, and I believe without a doubt, is that God lives outside of time and space. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all exist outside of what we see as the natural world. They are supernatural. The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead after 3 days and was witnessed by thousands ascending into Heaven is the beginning of the proof for that.
Looking at the tremendous order and complexity of life and the life cycle of plants and animals in our world is proof in and of itself of intelligent design. It has been said many times, “It takes more faith to believe in evolution than it takes to believe in God.” There is amazing complexity, detail, and balance in entire ecosystems. There is the same amazing complexity, detail, and balance for the simplest of life forms. These all point to a much higher intelligence, that cannot be proven using natural means. All of creation points to God, the Creator.
Once we can believe that God is supernatural and is outside our understanding of time and space, it is easy to be a person of faith in a world that desires proof. Being a follower of Jesus with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is essential to being a person of faith in a world that desires proof.